Chargers deliver stunning blow at Lee Gymnasium
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 28, 2013 1:47 PM
The fourth time was the charm for Ayden-Grifton.
Goldsboro squandered a 10-point, third-quarter lead and failed to execute down the stretch of a 57-54 loss to the Chargers in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state playoffs Wednesday evening.
The Cougars, who had their 15-game win streak snapped, had defeated the Chargers in each of their previous three meetings this season.
Ayden-Grifton visits Pamlico on Friday.
Damarian Henderson was the lone Cougar to score in double figures with 12 points.
Geremi Dixon led the Chargers with 18 points and Brandon Larry had 17.
Goldsboro led 21-11 after one quarter, but Dixon and Larry combined for 13 second-quarter points to cut the margin to 30-29 at halftime.
The deficit grew back to 10 on Myron Carmon's 3-pointer midway through the third quarter.
Ayden-Grifton (16-11) used an 8-1 run to take a 45-44 lead on Dixon's layup early in the fourth quarter.
The lead changed hands five times before Dixon sank one of two free throws to put Ayden-Grifton ahead for good at 55-54 with 15 seconds left. The Chargers twice grabbed critical rebounds off their own missed free throws in the final 15 seconds.
Ayden-Grifton's Jake Wright made the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left to increase Ayden-Grifton's lead to 57-54. Wright missed the second free throw and Goldsboro grabbed the rebound.
Surprisingly, the Chargers quickly called timeout, which allowed the Cougars (20-7 overall) an opportunity to set up one last play..
On Goldsboro's final possession, Julius Murphy received the inbounds pass and briefly lost his footing. He managed to pass the ball up the court to Joseph Baker, who attempted a long 3-pointer that was off the mark. The Chargers pulled down the rebound and celebrated as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
"I think we got a little tight," Cougars' head coach Russell Stephens said. "Since the new year started, we haven't had a game under double figures. We work on that stuff in practice but it's different when you've got a packed house and playoff implications on the line. We just didn't make the play."
Henderson and fellow big man Lonzia Tyson were held to a combined two points in the second half.
"We did get some post touches in there," Stephens said. "We didn't finish on a couple of looks and Ayden-Grifton was content to pack it in. They forced us off the bottom there and we had to hit some mid-range shots. They did a good job of taking our post away."
It was the final game for Henderson and fellow seniors Murphy, Jalin Sprueil and Jamal George.
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